WHAT: Disguised as boys, two Afghan girls ages 13 and 14 fled by bus for two days to escape their forced — and illegal — marriages to much older men. Police intercepted them and sent them back to their village, where they were promptly — and illegally — given 40 lashes at the orders of the local warlord and mullahs.
SOMEWHAT LUCKY: Both girls stood unflinching throughout the videotaped flogging, and afterward they walked away with their heads unbowed. The mullah who did the beating declared the girls divorced afterward and returned them to their own families.
WHAT’S BEING DONE: The Afghan government has taken no action to prevent widespread tribal flouting of the toothless laws against forced underage marriage. Afghanistan’s few independent shelters for battered women have no shortage of clients.